EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P162)
Materializing the past and imagining the future
Location SO-F289
Date and Start Time 17 Aug, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Carol Ann Kidron (University of Haifa) email
  • Maris Boyd Gillette (Göteborgs Universitet) email

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Short abstract

The panel examines the way the past is enlisted, emplaced, materialized and/or contested by displaced migrants, marginalized minorities and destabilized majorities to negotiate and (re-)constitute future imaginaries of place and belonging.

Long abstract

This panel grapples with the way the past is enlisted, emplaced, materialized and/or contested and destabilized in an attempt to constitute new imaginaries of the present and future. Ethnographic accounts illustrate the way displaced migrants, marginalized minorities and forgotten urban denizens literally and figuratively left behind by the failed futures of post-industrialization, post-colonialism, globalization and post-conflict governance struggle to re-negotiate and re-constitute place and belonging. Although blighted and constrained by challenging chronotopes - by diverse temporal and spatial contexts under duress - they enlist the past to re-activate and reinvigorate halted futures.

Some presentations depict the construction of concrete material social and cultural artifacts – commemorative sites, ceremonies, museums, theatrical performances, and urban renewal. These artifacts mobilize material remains and ruins while also emplacing ideological/moral imaginaries in the face of underdevelopment, marginalization and Otherness at the hands of global cosmopolitanism, modernization and post-industrial development. Hybrid sites and ceremonies emerge that encapsulate both challenging pasts and the hope of reinvigorated futures.

Other presentations examine the way the past is to put to work in protracted interpersonal or inter-group negotiations enlisted and re-configured in contested contact zones. Local elite/majorities under duress, displaced migrants/refugees or historically marginalized ethnic minorities negotiate divisive histories and memories to restore and/or contest belonging. Emergent imaginaries may continue to destabilize and foreshorten horizons of expectations.

The way the past is put to work is depicted – be it history, mythic foundational events, atemporal religious cosmological tales, or forgotten material traces – to breach the boundaries of constricted spatiality or frozen/halted time.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Life Amidst "Ruins": The pornography, destruction and reclamation of Detroit's built environment

Author: Simon Johansson email
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Short abstract

Detroit is today a symbol of post-industrial decay and blight. This paper examines how Detroiters relate to the "ruins" that surround them by exploring how abandoned houses turn into sites of pornography, destruction and reclamation that highlights the city's contentious futures

Long abstract

A third of Detroit is blighted or vacant. City estimates put the total acreage of vacant properties at 40 square miles, almost twice the size of Manhattan. No problem of Detroit is as emblematic as the extent of its abandonment. Their removal have been framed as a prerequisite for the future of Detroit to arrive, while the inabilities of the city to expedite removal is a recurring theme of critique, providing a rationale as to why the city have yet to make a comeback.

To live amidst "ruins" is to live with a past that is materially present. Not unlike the rings of a tree, the landscape of Detroit lends itself to a reading of time. The process of urban accretion makes visible decades of decline, but also decades of failed regeneration, of "past futures"; projects envisioned to deliver that comeback that never came. Visually striking, the city's environments have recently facilitated a veritable cottage industry of photographic journals, books and Instagram accounts that showcase its "ruins".

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, the paper discusses three separate ways in which the "ruins" of the past becomes meaningful sites that engage with the city's present and future. First through a discourse on morality that seeks to resist the colonial gaze by reframing depictions of its"ruins" as a form of pornography. Secondly, as a ritual of destruction and manifestation of regional power relations. Thirdly as reclamation, where abandonment provides a raw material for the manifestation of a "new" Detroit.

From GDR-resistance to New Right bohemia. Activating the socialist past in east German local elite responses to migrants and refugees.

Author: Julian Gopffarth (LSE) email
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Short abstract

This paper looks at how memories of past resistance to the socialist east German state are activated by intellectuals to frame present support for the populist and far right.

Long abstract

The literature on local responses to migrants and refugees often focuses on places where migrants and refugees settle. A common view is here that immigration is largely accepted by well-educated and economically well-off populations while it is rejected by those poorly educated and "economically left behind". Economic competition with refugees and migrants in those areas is, so is often argued, the main reason for an anti-immigrant backlash and the support of populist far-right parties. Against this common view this paper looks at the local responses of well-educated and well-off intellectuals in Loschwitz, a small neighbourhood in Dresden, Germany, where no recent immigration has taken place. Drawing on ethnographic data I argue that the so-called 2015 refugee crisis facilitated the emergence of a local "New Right bohemia" supportive of xenophobic views as well as parties and movements that are largely seen as far right populist. The data shows that to frame the present these intellectuals activate nostalgic individual and social memories of a non-conformist anti-regime bohemia that formed against the repressive state of the German Democratic Republic in the 1980s. Activating this past against the imagination of a dystopian future, i.e. the emergence of a new repressive regime and scenarios of "immigrant invasions" facilitates the politicisation of local intellectuals and their support of so-called far right populism. The activation of individual and social pasts to frame present imaginaries thus serves as a powerful resource for far-right mobilisation not only of the "economically left-behind" but also of local elites.

Presenting the past for the future: performing German-Czech borderland histories

Author: Kerstin Pfeiffer (Heriot-Watt University) email
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Short abstract

This paper explores the ways in which bilingual theatre projects along the German-Czech border can serve as vehicles for engagement with the area's difficult past and with the hopes for the future that the organisers and participants attach to them.

Long abstract

For centuries, a clear, stable yet porous border has existed between Bohemia and Bavaria that allowed for economic and cultural exchange. Yet during the past 80 years, relationships between the two neighbours have been overshadowed by the atrocities of the Nazi regime, the expulsion of the German-speaking minority from Bohemia after World War II, and Cold War divisions.

This paper presents an ethnographic exploration of the ways in which theatre projects along the German-Czech border encourage young people to engage with and to bring to life in performance difficult memories and public narratives of the past in this area. It focuses on the Čojčland Theaternetzwerk Böhmen-Bayern, a German-Czech cultural network which organises bilingual theatre workshops for young people aged 14 to 26 from both regions.

Through interviews and (performance) observation, this paper examines the significance that participants and project leaders attach to their engagement with memories, testimony and shared cultural histories in the Bavarian-Bohemian border region as a productive process (Rothberg 2009). It explores their perceptions of theatre workshops and performances as liminal spaces  (Fischer-Lichte 2004) in which differences - linguistic, cultural, historic- are temporarily suspended and can give way to a different future: one that is characterised by cross-cultural cooperation and and old yet new regional (cultural) identity. In doing so, I seek to illustrate that engagement with the past in the performative present is an integral part of the network's understanding of itself and of its role in shaping the borderland future.

Frustrated Modernity: Structures of Feeling and Kerewo Historical Consciousness

Author: Dario Di Rosa (The Australian National University) email
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Short abstract

Drawing on ethnographic material, the paper sketches the social processes shaping historical consciousness, stressing the entanglement of collective projects and representations of the past, with those structures of feeling I term "frustrated modernity".

Long abstract

Drawing on ethnographic material, this paper shows the complex social, economic, and cultural processes that shape historical consciousness, here understood as the critical reflection on the present guided by what Koselleck called "space of experience" (past) and "horizon of expectations" (future).

For contemporary Kerewo people of Papua New Guinea, "modernity" was first encountered in the colonial past but its promised future of wealth never fully came into being, as they are daily reminded by the lack of material signs of "development". Such sense of ongoing socio-economic marginality, despite the two decades long presence one of the biggest economic investments in Melanesia (the PNG LNG Project), constitutes the structure of feeling I term "frustrated modernity".

Kerewo people trace the source of their frustrated modernity to a particular set of historical events in their colonial history: the murder of the missionary James Chalmers in 1901, and the two punitive expeditions that followed it. The death of Chalmers did cast a curse unto Kerewo land, thus preventing "development" to materialise. Yet, this episode also did put Kerewo at the centre of the process of conversion to Christianity in the area. Ultimately, it is by the means of a Christian ritual of atonement, known as the Peace and Reconciliation ceremony, that Kerewo people attempted to uplift the curse. In the Peace and Reconciliation ceremony critical reflections on present socio-economic conditions, and past and future social imaginaries coalesced, suggesting an analysis that treats historical consciousness as shaped by structures of feelings and future trajectories.

Past perfect in China's (former) porcelain capital

Author: Maris Boyd Gillette (Göteborgs Universitet) email
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Short abstract

In this paper I investigate efforts to perfect the past in a postindustrial city known as China's porcelain capital, and how relationships with ceramics and former factories produce constructions of history that have significant social and economic ramifications for local presents and futures.

Long abstract

Jingdezhen, known to many as China's porcelain capital, experienced mass unemployment and the sudden obsolescence of its ceramics manufacturing industry when China's central government marketized the state and collective sector in the late 1990s. Many municipal areas across China share with Jingdezhen a host of social, economic, and environmental problems associated with abandoned factories, derelict machinery, and unwanted memories of failed state and collective sector industries. While real estate demands in megacities like Beijing and Shanghai have meant that dozens of former industrial campuses have been adapted for reuse or demolished for new build, municipalities like Jingdezhen that are less attractive to transnational capital find managing socialist waste more challenging. Dominating the city's 21st century have been official and commercial efforts to reinvent the city's present and reinvigorate its future through the production of ceramics heritage. Through their relationships with material objects and the built environment, particularly ceramics and former manufacturing sites, entrepreneurs and city officials have attempted to perfect the city's past for tourist and retail consumption. Their efforts to reconstruct the past, literally and figuratively, in order to shape an appealing present and bright future in a postindustrial city are the subject of this paper. I explore how people's relationships with material objects and the built environment - namely ceramics and postindustrial settings - manifest and produce constructions of time and history that have significant social and economic ramifications for their presents and futures.

The Temporal and Spatial Frictions of Cosmopolitan Genocide Memory: an Ethnographic Reading of Communal Genocide Monuments in Cambodia

Author: Carol Ann Kidron (University of Haifa) email
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Short abstract

Cambodian communal sites of genocide are analyzed as culturally incompetent products of travelling cosmopolitan memory. Buddhist traditional temporal and spatial perspectives and practices are presented as incongruent with Euro-Western forms of public collective commemoration.

Long abstract

As part of the contemporary conceptualization of memorialization of difficult pasts as a human right and global imperative, recent decades have witnessed the circulation of Euro-western commemorative forms in non-Western post-genocide societies. Be it genocide museum exhibits or commemorative monuments, architects and museologists have attempted to weave local culturally particular symbolic motifs with Euro-Western aesthetic commemorative forms. In accordance with precepts of travelling cosmopolitan memory, the outcome often appears to represent a hybrid product of glocalization in the global commemorative landscape, effectively translating particular local conceptions of loss, mourning and collective memory into a universally shared semiotics and mnemonic aesthetics. However, echoing the challenge of other forms of cultural translation, Euro-Western commemorative forms of representation may be incongruent with culturally particular worldviews and the way in which local ethos objectify (or resist objectifying) the past in the present and future. This lecture will suggest that anthropological perspectives may isolate the limits of translation pointing to local ethos that may have been lost in translation. Ethnographic data on communal sites of genocide in Cambodia will be presented. Moving off the beaten track, commemorative 'stupas' located in village Wats (Buddhist compounds) will be discussed as potentially incongruent hybrid cultural products of glocal memorialization. Cambodian Buddhist present and future focused perspectives and familial domestic and/or Buddhist wat-based commemoration point to temporal and spatial frictions between culturally particular private, 'religious', valorized forgetting and cosmopolitan memory's collective, civil-secular and public form of remembrance. Implications are raised regarding the universalization/localization of cosmopolitan genocide memory.

Migration, Local memories, and Urban Encounters: Spatial, Temporal, and Emotional Negotiation of Diversity in Zagreb's Margin

Author: Igor Petričević (Stockholm University) email
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Short abstract

The paper presents research on relationships among locals and migrants in Zagreb, Croatia. Emphasis is on how the intersection between transnational mobility and local memories produces place-making and group boundaries through spatial, temporal and emotional negotiation of urban encounters.

Long abstract

Croatia has traditionally been seen as a sending country, in terms of the forced migration during the 1990s war that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia. Although emigration continues during the economic crisis, the post-war period, characterised by EU integration, as well as the intensification of the Balkan route of migration, resulted in the increased numbers of asylum requests in Croatia. Alongside around three hundred people whose asylum request has been approved, additional five hundred asylum seekers are located in a migrant reception centre in Dugave neighbourhood on the margin of Zagreb city. The arrival of new migrants has been accompanied by discourses about the role of the experience of the 1990s war in making Croatian citizens more receptive to the refugees. At the same time, emerging xenophobia echoes that the 1990s war was embedded in a project of (homogeneous) nation-building according to ethnic lines. By relying on ethnographic fieldwork in the neighbourhood focused on the dynamics of contact spaces, the presentation will highlight the ways in which the emerging relationships among (local and migrant) groups reflect and construct the new diversity in Zagreb. The emphasis is on the intersection between local memories, heterogeneous temporalities, spatial dynamics, emotional encounters and transnational mobility, as well as how these are entangled with the identity- and place-making processes and reconfigurations of group boundaries in the urban everyday life of the people living on the EU's periphery.

Metamorphoses in everlasting present: the case of the Papua Pavilion at the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

Author: Roberto Costa (Macquarie University) email
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Short abstract

In this paper, I examine the Papua pavilion at the Taman Mini Indonesia through a diachronic comparison of the transformations that occurred over the last years. The alterations are framed in terms of urgency in reconfiguring the park quaint ideological and imaginative bases in the present time.

Long abstract

This article expands the postmodern analyses of the theme park Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. As part of the Suharto regime's monumental nation-building relics, the park displays the image of the Indonesian archipelago and its provinces in an iconic, reductionist, hegemonic and ahistorical manner. The spatiotemporal dimension, as noted by John Pemberton, is a salient feature of the park, since the blend of various historical signs and simulacra signifies a singular a-temporality grounded in an ever-lasting present. Nowadays, nonetheless, in a political ambience in which decentralisation of central state power has destabilised the original paradigm of Indonesian nationhood, changes are noticeable in the Taman Mini too, above all in such peripheral pavilions as the one of Papua.

In this article, I examine the Papua pavilion through a diachronic comparison of the transformations that occurred over the last few years. The alterations are framed in terms of urgency in reconfiguring the quaint ideological and imaginative bases of the Taman Mini project in the present time.

Hundred Years of What?

Author: Johana Musalkova (University of Oxford) email
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Short abstract

Based on the case study of Hlučín preparations for the 2020 centenary celebration, I examine the political use of the past in negotiations between the region's cultural representatives and the Czech state apparatus over the formation of the Hlučín identity and its relation to the country's visions.

Long abstract

In the town of Hlucin, Czech Republic, preparations for the 2020 celebration marking the centenary of the region's existence have started. The region, with its difficult Prussian heritage and present-day Czech national affiliation, has often struggled to balance the two temporalities, particularly during such celebratory occasions and commemorative activities. In the Czech Republic, an ostensibly ethnically homogenous nation-state with 'one language, one culture, and one history', being different is often seen as problematic. The fact that the residents of the Hlucin region refer to the arrival of Czechoslovak troops in 1920 as an annexation rather than a liberation and that nearly every family had its members serving in Wehrmacht imposes significant questions and challenges for the national imaginaries of 'Czechness' in the region. To prepare a large-scale anniversary celebration that would adequately represent the region as it is understood by its residents and at the same time to reconstruct the past hundred years within the framework of Czech national sentiments requires careful planning and diplomacy. What and whose aspirations, worries, visions and hopes are put into the planning? Based on an ethnographic study of the region in 2015-16, I examine the political use of the past in negotiations between the region's cultural representatives and the state apparatus over the formation of the region's identity and its relation to the country's visions. I shall support my arguments with reference to the preparatory activities undertaken for the centenary celebrations of the Hlucin region's existence as a part of the Czech Republic.

Arborescent community: Displaced Sindhis' Politics of Emplacement

Author: Jelena Salmi (University of Jyväskylä) email
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Short abstract

This paper explores the role of the past in displaced Sindhi ethnic community's efforts to emplace itself in a position of legitimate presence in the city of Ahmedabad, India.

Long abstract

During the partition of India in 1947, thousands of Sindhi Hindus migrated from Pakistan to Gujarat, India. Sindhis were rehabilitated in refugee camps, many of which were established in the Ahmedabad city. One of the camps was set next to Ahmedabad's Kankaria Lake, and became known as the Sindhi Camp. Fifty-nine year later, however, the story of the Sindhi Camp came to its end—in 2006, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation demolished the neighborhoods by the lake under an urban restructuring project. Sindhis were resettled again, this time in slum resettlement sites in the outskirts of the city.

Drawing on ten months' ethnographic fieldwork in one of Ahmedabad's resettlement sites, this paper examines displaced Sindhis' politics of emplacement focusing on the role of a temple dedicated to Jhūlelāl, the Sindhi community god, and the "arborescent metaphors" (Deleuze & Guattari 1987) of roots, branches and trees mobilized by the offspring of Sindhi refugees. I suggest that central to emplacement efforts is a creation of a collective imaginary of a tree-like, unified community capable of rerooting itself in a hostile "jungle," and the materialization of this imaginary in the form of the temple. I demonstrate the role of the temple in constructing the Sindhi community both symbolically and in practice, and in negotiating its right to the city. Finally, I argue that the temple objectifies an imaginary of arborescent stability gathering past places, events, and people within its structure, and continuing the story of the diasporic Sindhi community across time and space.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.